£222million of 'new starts' investment projects for Sunderland to be discussed

New starts for Sunderland City Council’s next round of investments include boosts for housing, schools, business, transport, culture and allotments.

Monday, 30th November 2020, 6:32 pm
How the new footbridge over the River Wear could look

The investment projects add up to more than £200million and will be examined by the council’s ruling cabinet next week.

Subject to the meeting, the projects will go into the next budget which will be decided in early 2021.

The proposals total £222.793million, of which £77.418million is expected to come from external funding and nearly £7million is already included in existing plans.

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This means the council will invest £138.613million extra in improvements for residents, businesses and visitors.

As capital spending, the long-term investments aim to improve city assets and infrastructure and are different from revenue spending which covers yearly running costs for services.

The proposals also add to the existing investment programme of nearly £500million that the council already has for coming years.

This programme is being met with city and external funding, such as Legal & General’s commitment to three major buildings on the former Vaux brewery site as part of the wider Riverside Sunderland regeneration project.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “These plans demonstrate the ambition that we have for our city.

“Our City Plan is not a document that has sat on a shelf since we agreed it – we are using it to drive the investment in our great city, to ensure that we can deliver the promises we have made to our residents, businesses and visitors.”

New capital investment plans being outlined at cabinet include:

:: Riverside Sunderland Infrastructure – including plans for a new high-level footbridge over the River Wear, a riverside park on either side of the Wear, improvements to St Mary’s car park and 5G infrastructure (£32m).

:: Plans to enhance the cultural offer through the new Culture House near Keel Square (£27.2million) and the Washington ‘F’ Pit ‘Heritage Visitor Centre’ and Albany Park improvements (£4.6m).

:: Vaux Housing and the Future Living Expo, to showcase regional skills and housing innovation (£38.4million).

:: Northern Spire Park investment to develop the site for affordable housing (£23million). The site has already been identified for more than 1,000 homes.

:: Investment in supported living for adults (£16million at Willowfield Supported Village) and for those facing homelessness (£7.2million for an Inspiring Futures Programme).

:: Investment in transport – Sunderland Station redevelopment and car park (£28m) and strategic cycling network plans (£5.6million).

:: Housing Innovation Construction and Skills Academy, to develop skills for residents in modern methods of construction (£11million).

:: Refurbishment of Barnes Junior and Fulwell Junior Schools (£5million).

:: Further allotment and open spaces improvements (£2.5million).

Cllr Miller added: “The scale of these plans is significant, but we are attracting external funding wherever possible and many of these investments will generate an income stream for the council.

“The investment in housing, for example, will generate income from both sales and rental incomes.

“The current state of the public finances means that we cannot wait for the Government to fund everything.

“We need to make wise investments in the city, and do so in a way that is financially sustainable and prudent. These proposals do just that.”

The proposed capital new start projects are planned to be included in the council’s capital programme between 2021/2022 to 2024/2025.

The proposed total of £222.793million for the additional new projects includes £53.988million in 2021/2022 and £168.805million in future years.

Subject to the cabinet meeting and further decision-making, the council’s next budget will be decided in March 2021.

During Covid-19, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet has begun to meet remotely with the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 8, at 10am.

The meeting starts at 10am and can be viewed on the council’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/hNfGydyv4GY

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